- Written by California Association of Orthodontists California Association of Orthodontists
Getting on social media isn’t the only way older people are keeping up with the younger generation — doctors are reporting a recent rise in the number of older patients looking into cosmetic procedures, many of them in their 90s.
Dr. Joshua Zuckerman, a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Manhattan, reasons that the stigma for plastic surgery is fading fast. Combined with an increase in less invasive procedures, both surgical and nonsurgical treatments are becoming more common with older men and women.
Zuckerman says that wrinkles, sunspots, and loose, flabby skin are often the biggest complaints for older patients, but it’s not uncommon to perform facelifts, eyelid lifts, facial fat transfer, breast lifts, tummy tucks, and thigh lifts on them, too.
Cosmetic surgery is often traditionally associated with major procedures like these; however, the rise in popularity of noninvasive procedures — such as braces, dental implants, chemical peels, laser resurfacing, and injectable fillers such as Botox or Xeomin — have made aesthetic improvements even more accessible and affordable to anyone that wishes to take advantage of them.
Cosmetic procedures may be more in demand than ever before with over-60s, but there is a lack of information about the effects, risk, and results for older generations that take the plunge.
So, we spoke to the experts and asked them to break everything down for us.
How Risky is It?
The risk really depends on the procedure that you choose. Body-altering surgeries, such as facelifts or tummy tucks, require anesthesia, which is riskier for older patients, who are more likely to have heart problems, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
“Age is also an independent risk factor for forming a clot during surgery,” says Zuckerman, “so patients over 50 must get proper preoperative medical clearance from their primary-care doctor and/or cardiologist.”
Extreme measures don’t have to be taken to alter appearance, though. Braces are a relatively low-risk way to bring change to a face or even mitigate health concerns, such as sleep apnea or jaw pain caused by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
Dr. Robert Sunstein, San Diego-based orthodontist and member of the California Association of Orthodontists, says that “there is no increased risk in getting braces later in life and, at most, the procedures can be tiring.”
One of his patients, an 84-year-old, opted to go home for a nap before returning and finishing the bracket adjustment.
What Does Age Mean for Recovery?
As with any healing, as the body ages, the process becomes slower. Recuperation from anesthetic can also take longer, but it’s not all bad news.
New York-based cosmetic surgeon Dr. Philip J. Miller says that “surprisingly, recovery from procedures is as varied across the board as one sees in the sub-65-year-old population. There are those who recuperate very quickly and those who take a little longer, both in terms of the incision healing, bruising, swelling, and recuperation from anesthesia.”
So, while extra caution must be taken, recovery time is a very individual process. Surgeon Dr. Manish Shah does note that his older patients tend to have a much higher pain tolerance, however.
Is it Effective for Older Patients?
Younger patients have the benefit of higher levels of collagen and elastin in their skin, meaning that their results will last longer, but Shah does say that older patients can, in some instances, have equivalent results to younger generations with procedures such as tummy tucks or breast lifts.
Results, he notes, can vary for patients of different ages and sizes.
Sunstein states that, in comparison to surgical procedures, braces are known to be effective at any age.
The key to achieving a well-aligned smile with braces or dental implants, such as veneers, is having healthy teeth and gums as a foundation for any orthodontic work. Regular visits to a dentist, an effective oral-care routine, and consistent follow-ups with an orthodontist will ensure that every patient’s treatment is a success.
Should I Do It?
Age has no impact on wanting to look as good as you feel, and luckily, there are now so many options out there that offer results for all comfort levels.
Whether you’re ready to go full force into liposuction and a tummy tuck or would prefer to start small with fillers or a chemical peel, you can find a procedure that’s right for you.
Once all of the risks have been assessed against the benefits, there is no reason that anyone over 60 can’t have a positive experience with cosmetic surgery, should they want it.
The California Association of Orthodontists is a chapter of the American Association of Orthodontists. It represents more than 18,000 orthodontist members throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad. For more information, go to www.caortho.org.